|26 May - 05 Jun|
Sat at the meeting point of modern space exploration technology, ancient Silk Road history and former U.S.S.R roots, Kazakhstan’s culture is as varied as its landscapes. For the most part, Central Asia’s vast Republic of Kazakhstan is shrouded in mystery, known mostly for its association with the former USSR, for its endless landscapes of desert steppe, and sometimes for Borat. But this country also provides a dramatic backdrop for many pioneering and modern space exploration missions.
In June 2016 Kazakhstan made the world news, warding off its fictional character-led reputation by welcoming an inter-planetary visitor back to earth. After launching from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome – the world’s first and largest space launch facility – British Astronaut, Tim Peake, returned to terra firma safely having spent six months on the International Space Station. Indulge the curiosity of your inner cosmonaut and visit Baikonur with us. Here you’ll have the opportunity to tour the Integration and Test Facility complex, visit the Space and Spaceport History Museums and see cottages inhabited by astronauts Gagarin and Korolev.
But when Kazakhstan is dotted with Silk Road trading towns and intriguing remnants of its place in Soviet-era history, there are so much more to explore. We’ll also take you deeper into the country on a journey almost through time; spend a few days in bustling Almaty, admire the huge lakes that sit cradled by snow-capped mountains and visit the archaeological sites at 12th-century Aisha-Bibi and Karakhan Mausoleum. Head on to Turkestan, where you’ll tour the impressive medieval fortress at Sauran – once the largest civilisation in the country.
Bringing you back to the modern day, this tour ends in Astana. Kazakhstan’s futuristic capital city boasts an eclectic skyline dominated by the domed Bayterek Tower and flashy glass buildings.
Depart London Heathrow and fly direct to Astana.
Arrive in Astana where you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel where you will have time to freshen up and relax. After lunch explore this futuristic capital city visiting the Norman Foster designed Palace of Peace and Accord and Khan Shatyr shopping and entertainment centre. Ascend the iconic Bayterek Tower and enjoy stunning views over the city before continuing up Green Water Boulevard to the Presidential Palace area and the impressive Khazret Sultan Mosque. (B,L,D)
After an early breakfast check-out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for a flight to Kyzylorda. Transfer to Baikonur, driving across the steppe (approx 3.5 hours) which will give you an appreciation of the size of Kazakhstan, where you will pass one or two service stations and little else other than fields, camels and horses. On arrival expect a short wait whilst your passes are issued and you are granted entry to the city - Russia leases both the town and Cosmodrome from Kazakhstan so you will technically be on Russian soil - if you want to buy souvenirs from the Cosmodrome you will need to bring Russian roubles. (B,L,D)
Baikonur is the world's oldest and largest space launch site. Sputnik was launched from Baikonur, as was Yuri Gagarin's first manned mission through to Tim Peake in 2016. Transfer to the site and the the Integration and Test Facility complex, followed by the Space museum, "Buran" Orbital complex and the cottages of Gagarin and Korolev, before Gargarin's Start complex. In the afternoon take a city tour of Baikonur and visit the Spaceport History Museum. (Please note that access to some sites is subject to Roscosmos permits and subject to change). After dinner transfer to the station for the overnight train to Turkestan (departing at 01:04 to arrive at 09:48 - shared berths but private cabins are available for a supplement). (B,L,D)
On arrival into Turkestan head for breakfast at a local restaurant/cafe, then travel to the medieval settlement of Sauran - one of the most important monuments in Kazakhstan. For many years Sauran fortress has been visited by adventurers and lovers of antiquities: see the interesting underground water conduits - kahrezes - that bringwater to the settlement from the Karatau mountains. Return to Turkestan and visit the Azret-Sultan historical and architectural complex, the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yawasi, Turkestan ancient settlement, necropolis and Hilvet underground mosque. Continue on to Shymkent for the night. (B,L,D)
Have breakfast and drive 180km (approx 3 hours) to Taraz and see the 11th and 12th century monuments of Aisha-Bibi Mausoleum, Babaja Hatum and Karakhan Mausoleum as well as the Tekturmas Historical Complex before returning to Shymkent. (B,L,D)
Spend the morning exploring Shymkent. Visit the bazaar, Abai Park and the museum of history. After lunch have the afternoon free to explore at leisure before meeting for dinner in the evening. (B,L,D)
After breakfast transfer to the airport for the short flight to Almaty (10:00/11:15) the former capital of Kazakhstan (and said to be the original home of the apple!) where you will be met and transferred to your hotel for lunch. After a busy few days spend the afternoon relaxing in the hotel or exploring the city under your own steam. (B,L,D)
Spend the day enjoying a tour of Kazakhstan's former capital city - visit Panfilov Park and Zenkov Catherdral (the second largest wooden building in the world built without the use of nails), Green Bazaar, Kok-Tobe Hill and Medeo Gorge - proud home of Kazakhstan's outdoor speed-skating rink. Visit the Museum of National Musical Instruments, Republic Square and the Independence Monument. (B,L,D)
Head out of the city to the countryside outside of Almaty. Start by visiting Big Almaty lake, at an altitude of 2,510 metres this is one of the most picturesque lakes in Trans-Ili Alatau. The lake was formed by the movement of an ancient glacier and the water remains cool all year round and the number of visitors is restricted. After spending time at the lake continue to an altitude of 3,300 metres to the base of Big Almaty peak where you can enjoy a fantastic panorama of the lakes and moutnains, the slopes covered with fir-trees, aspen and juniper. On the way back to the city visit a falconry and see a demonstration of the traditional way of hunting before returning to the city. (B,L,D)
No single supplement.
Please note that this tour will operate with a minimum of 8 persons and maximum 16 persons.
This tour can also be combined with our Back in the USSR tour.
|Itinerary Dates||From Price||Single Room Supp.|
26 May 2018
05 Jun 2018